WARNING ABOUT DIGITAL SECURITY
Many SRS retirees use Verizon as their cell phone provider since the Savannah River Site Employees Association, formerly the ORA, has gotten a 25% discount on some items at Verizon for us. However, if you pay your Verizon bill online through a Verizon account, you may want to re-consider. At least one retiree's Verizon account was recently hacked. A new iPhone was purchased in her name, and she was charged $400 for the new phone. She had not ordered or received a new phone. The phone was sent to Tennessee, and she lives in South Carolina. After several frustrating calls to Verizon, her account was credited the $400 and her contract period reset. None of her other accounts were hacked -- just Verizon.
Here are some things you can do to prevent this from happening to you:
Do not use a Verizon account online to pay your bill. Instead, use your bank account to pay your Verizon bill. (Most banks have a bill-pay online.) Or have the bill charged to a credit card.
- If you do use an online Verizon account to pay your bill, use a very strong password and change it often. Do not use common words or names, any part of your phone number, zip code, etc. Use upper and lower case random letters, special symbols such as #, $, etc., as well as numbers. There are many websites which offer ways to set a password. One example is mFaOMcp47$. (The letters are based on the phrase "my favorite app on my cell phone" -- any phrase easy for you to remember.) Do not use the example as your password. Make up your own.
- Do not use the same password for several accounts, i.e., do not use the same password for your Verizon, Macy's, American Express, etc., accounts.
- Call Verizon and specify that all purchases MUST be sent to you at your address.
- Set up a special password with Verizon that must be used for any purchases.
We all hear about hacking all of the time and should consider the information above for any online accounts. We heard the same message about passwords when we worked at the site. Let's not forget the personal security lessons we learned while working.
THIS IS AN IMPORTANT "PASS ALONG"
ATTORNEY's ADVICE - NO CHARGE (Number 7 is the best)
Even If you dislike attorneys...You will love these tips.
Read this and make a copy for your files in case you need to refer to it someday. Maybe we should all take some of his advice! A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company:
1. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put 'PHOTO ID REQUIRED.'
2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the 'For' line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.
3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it.
GOOD TIP ON CHECKS (SHARED BY SRSRA MEMBER):
Unless you write checks in stores (most of us don't since we use credit or debit cards --- or even cash), do you even need your address on your checks? I took my address off our checks over 10 years ago and haven't had any problems. When you write checks to pay bills, the company who sent you the check has your address because they sent you the bill. If there is a change of address, you have to fill out something on the back of the stub you send in. The bank also knows your address. I asked a banker why I needed my address on my checks when I took the address off of the checks, and she could not think of a single reason. In fact, she thought it was such a great idea, she said she was going to take the address off of her checks and ask her customers if they really need the address on the checks.
4. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place.
I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a Name, address, Social Security number, credit cards. In case your luggage is lost, take another list in your carry on bag, especially if you are abroad and need immediate access to those numbers.
Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have first hand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more.
But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:
5. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call.. Keep those where you can find them.
6. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc.., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one).
But here's what is perhaps most important of all: (
7. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name.
The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.
By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks..
Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if it has been stolen:
1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285 1-800-525-6285
2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742 1-888-397-3742
3.) Trans Union : 1-800-680 7289 1-800-680 7289
4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line):
We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just about everything.
If you are willing to pass this information along, it could really help someone that you care about.
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US Mail: SRS Retiree Association
P.O. Box 5686
Aiken, S.C. 29804
SRS Retiree Association, Inc.
Revised: January 2, 2015
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